I have spent twelve years as an interior designer and in that time often helped clients update their heirloom furniture from grandma, or restore their consignment store find that has sat in a garage for five years eagerly awaiting some attention. Working on such projects, I realized that not only do these pieces become the lifeblood and focal point of a room or sometimes even the entire house, but also that most people really had no idea how to go about finding a vintage piece, selecting a fabric appropriate for the piece, or finding a skilled upholsterer. And so, Christa Pirl Furniture was born out of my interiors business Christa Pirl Interiors, with the goal of providing everyone the opportunity to live with one-of-a-kind, restored antique or vintage chairs, chaises, sofas and settees.
- Buying a Vintage Piece -
There are lots of great places to find vintage furniture, such as flea markets, great consignment shops like Abode, or the attic of your childhood home. However, not all chairs are created equal, and while a fantastic fabric can do a lot for a tired piece, ultimately, it is the frame and ‘bones’ that determines the beauty, style and shape of the piece overall, so the curve of the back or splay of the legs is most important. Find a piece you love, despite the chipped paint or tattered fabric.
- Selecting a Fabric -
Finding a fabric that really suits an antique or vintage piece can be tricky. Of course you should always first think of your practical needs and the durability of the fabric. But beyond the practicalities of fabric selection, the fabric's colors, patterns and overall feel will be key in defining your chair's revitalization. The frame of the piece itself is always a good place to look for inspiration. Consider the shape and lines of the piece. Does it have a rounded form or is it more angular? Think about mimicking this overall shape in the fabric pattern. Does it come from a certain era? If it is a mid-century modern piece, can you find a fabric that references that era, but still updates the piece? Really looking at the features of the piece will give you a feel for the style of fabric that might fit.
- Selecting an Upholsterer -
While most of us have grand visions of tackling an upholstery project ourselves, the reality is that to really do a proper job, upholstery takes hard work and lots of time. Often it is best to invest in a professional, getting the project done right and in a timely fashion. If you have a true antique, of 100 years old or more, I would highly recommend seeking out an upholsterer that has experience and regularly works on antiques. Someone with knowledge of antiques will be sure to adhere to traditional upholstery techniques and use traditional materials, maintaining the value of your piece.
There is an amazing amount to consider when reupholstering a vintage chair or sofa. Of course the easiest way to tackle the entire process is to consider using a design professional that can facilitate all the steps for a reasonable fee, saving you time and very likely some money as well. Many interior designers have established sources for vintage furniture, and can offer you many fabrics that are not widely available to the general public, giving you a more unique look. Designers often work closely with upholsterers and can recommend a great one that they use on a regular basis.
However, there is no satisfaction like finding a great piece tucked away in a corner at some dodgy flea market, sifting through hundreds of fabrics to find that perfect one, and finally seeing your design vision take shape in your own garage or craft room.
This piece was a great find at Abode, thanks Abode!
For more information and updates from Christa Pirl Furniture or Interiors, visit www.christapirlfurniture.com, www.christapirlinteriors.com, or www.christapirl.blogspot.com.